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    Algeria aims to privatize 300 companies in 2006 - Minister

    ALGIERS -(Dow Jones)- Algeria plans to privatize about 300 small- and medium-sized companies this year, Minister of State Shareholdings and Promotion of Investment Hamid Temmar told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday.

    "Only privatization will save the Algerian industrial sector and allow it to enter the European market," Temmar said on the sidelines of an investment fair in the capital Algiers.

    The 300 companies being sold in 2006, compared with 270 privatized in 2005, will include construction companies, manufacturing and textiles factories and small public works companies. In the first four months of this year, 63 small- and medium-sized companies have already been sold.

    Algeria's privatization process has so far raised around 55 billion Algerian dinars ($1=DZD73) in revenue for the state. Temmar said 75% of buyers are domestic investors.

    Measures such as allowing investors to make a 30% initial payment for a company, paying off the balance over the next five years, have speeded up the privatizations.

    The privatization process has gathered momentum in Algeria since 2001, with only the petroleum sector excluded. It now involves 1,060 companies, of which 265 are classed as small businesses, 650 are medium-sized and 145 are big companies.

    Larger companies slated for privatization include Air Algerie, Asmidal fertilizers, industrial vehicles manufacturer SNVI, and cigarette manufacturer Societe Nationale des Tabacs et Allumettes, and the pharmaceutical company Saidal, Temmar said.

    Saidal has already floated a 20% stake on the Algiers Stock Exchange which was created in 1999.

    Consulting firms to advise on these larger upcoming privatizations will be selected by July, Temmar said.

    He cited as a successful blueprint for Algerian privatizations Mittal Steel Co. (MT) acquisition of a 70% stake in Algeria's El-Hadjar steel-making complex in 2001.

    "It was a success story. They are doing good business and creating jobs, and we're looking for this kind of privatization," Temmar said.

    >>>Source<<<

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    Algeria to sell BDL bank, 800 companies

    MILAN (Reuters) - Algeria will sell a stake in Banque du Developpement Locale (DBL) to private investors as the country accelerates its privatisation programme, Minister of Investment Promotion Abdelhamid Temmar said on Monday.

    The sale of BDL, one of the country's largest lenders, would follow that of Credit Populaire d'Algerie (CPA), Algeria's third biggest bank, Temmar told Reuters in an interview in Milan during a visit to meet Italian investors.

    Algeria has privatised 384 companies in the last year and aims to sell about 800 more to investors in the coming years, Temmar said.

    "All sectors are open except for public utilities," Temmar said.

    Algeria's privatisation programme was put on hold when the country plunged into violence after the military cancelled the 1992 legislative elections that an Islamic party was poised to win. Authorities had feared an Iranian style revolution. About 200,000 people were killed in the violence.

    In the last few years the government has contained the Islamic insurgency and offered amnesty and cash to militants who lay down their arms.

    To attract investors Algeria has reduced its corporate income tax to 25 percent from 30 percent and allows companies to transfer their profits out of the country, Temmar said.

    Together, BDL and CPA have 18 percent of the Algerian market, Temmar said. Algeria will invite international banks by October to bid for CPA, the country's first bank privatisation, and expects to conclude a deal by February.

    BDL, which specialises in lending to small and medium-sized enterprises, has one of the north African country's largest branch networks and authorised capital in 2004 stood at 13.4 billion dinars.

    There are six state-owned banks, which own 90 percent of total assets and loans of the banking system, and a handful of small private banks which focus on financing imports. Foreign banks including BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, Citibank and Arab Banking Corporation are also present in the market.

    Officials at BDL were not immediately available for comment.

    Algeria, a member of the Organisation of Oil Exporting Countries, is not planning to further open up its oil and gas exploration and production sector, Temmar said.

    "The international market has changed dramatically," Temmar said. "We know oil prices will not go down and if they do they will fall only a little. In this context we don't see why we would want further exploitation of our resources now that we have too much money."

    Algeria's revenues from oil and gas sales amount to about $50 billion a year.

    Arab, Italian and U.S. investors have shown the most interest in Algeria's privatization process so far, Temmar said.

    Algeria to sell BDL bank, 800 companies

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    Algeria: Italian businesses invited to privatisations

    Milan, Jul 17 - Algeria is ready to welcome Italian entrepreneurs' investments. That is what has been learnt from the meeting in Milan today between a delegation of Algerian businesses led by the Minister for Privatisation and the Promotion of Investments, Abdelhamit Tebbar, and Italian entrepreneurs. In his speech, Minister Tebbar presented the progress made by his country. The Algerian GDP was 6.7 percent in 2005. In 2006 it will remain at 6.4 percent. Purchasing power doubled since 1999 and is expected to triple by 2009.

    Unemployment, according to the Minister, fell by 33 percent since 1999 and 15 percent since 2005. According to Tebbar, this is thanks to the political stabilisation which has greatly changed the country. "Along with South Africa, Algeria is the only African country to have achieved true democracy. This especially means consultations and cooperation between the government and trade unions." Tebbar declared that "As far as I know, there is no other country in the sub-region with such a good economic situation."

    The Minister took the opportunity of this favourable situation to invite Italian entrepreneurs to participate in the privatisation of some "important" Algerian businesses. "630 Algerian companies are available for privatisation. These are especially in the textiles or in the lumber industry, that is, the countries which are suffering China's competition in Italy. Why not invest in Algeria, where an engineer costs 100 euros a month?" The Minister added that "The companies in question are good but have debt problems." Even here, the new and slimmer laws on privatisation guarantee that the choice be made by the foreign company which desires the privatisation. Tabbar is aware that often the obstacles stopping Italian businesses abroad do not just concern the characteristic small size of businesses (the SMB's), but, especially in Algeria, the necessity is that of lightening the bureaucracy and the public administration. Also due to this, it is expected that the establishment of an Algerian General Consulate in Milan next August, with an economic and commercial section, will improve the paperwork for visas.

    Algeria: Italian businesses invited to privatisations

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    Privatization: U.S. company interested in Sotramo, Oran



    The US harbours construction specialised company recently sent a group of experts to the Western great maritime works company “Sotramo” located in Oran, to get ready for its assets purchasing in the framework of its capital opening.

    The company’ delegates took stock of the “Sotramo” overall real and movable estates, as a prelude to deciding on entering as an associate with this strategic company following the central authorities decision to open its capital.

    According to well informed sources, the US delegation came up with an exhaustive assessment of “Sotramo” properties, they visited also the principal headquarters and the houses situated in Mostaghanem wilaya, moreover they took stock of fees plan, human resources and other issues related to management, given that the completion of company’s assets procurement procedures is expected to take place as soon as possible.

    The Algerian company Sotramo, which experienced big scandals arising out from the company’s funds squandering, made a parallel assessment, in preparation for receiving the expected offer by the US company executives keen on getting its assets.

    U.S. company interested in Sotramo

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    Liquidate or privatize?: 500 companies to be sold by the end of the year

    The government is expected to sell about 500 state owned companies by this year’s end. Since last January, among 1055 companies targeted for privatization, 63 companies have been totally and partially privatised, while 270 companies were sold from June to December last year according to the last economic and social council (ECOSOC) report.

    The recorded operations allowed the buyers to procure 55bn Dinars, equal to 610 million euros in addition to 32bbn Dinars i.e. 345 million euro, and allowed also the creation of seven million jobs.

    According to the recent statements by the minister of participation and investment promotion, Hamid Temmar, three thirds* of the privatized companies have been sold to Algerian investors, and 160 state owned companies declared bankruptcy within the last two years.

    According to well informed sources Temmar is striving to speed up the privatisation operations, he made it clear for twenty eight state participations management companies’ C.E.Os, that the government priority in the next phase ending just before the elections due date, is to get rid of as many companies as possible.

    Well informed sources close to the issue of the privatisation portfolio say that Temmar’s conviction is that if the state’s assets are to be well managed, it is necessary to get rid of them.

    They further mentioned that during Temmar’s meeting with the companies' C.E.Os he said that he is charged by the President of the Republic to speed up the pace of privatisation, which has been repeatedly delayed, more precisely since 1995, highlighting that the most adequate environment to implement the new plan elaborated on the basis of ex-Eastern Germany's and the Hungarian republic's experiences.

    State owned companies constitute 85% of the national market, whereas the remainder is owned by private and foreign companies, bound to adapt their situation with the new private and foreign banks and financial institutions creation regulation law fixing the minimum social capital by 30 million dollars.

    The governmental sources point out that the tiring and exhaustive privatisation process remained frozen by political and economic milieus as well as trade unions apprehensions about the impact it will have on their economic and maybe political future. The economic experts see patently that privatization is dependent on the political situation.

    500 companies to be sold by the end of the year

    *The use of 'three thirds' seems odd here - it would have been easier to say 'all' or '100%' so perhaps there is an error here and 'two thirds' was intended.

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    Privatisations en Algérie

    La liste des entreprises publiques soustraites à la privatisation n’est pas encore définitive, a appris L’Expression, de sources gouvernementales. La centaine de sociétés annoncées par le ministre des Participations et de la Promotion des investissements a été dégagée, après une étude sommaire du dossier des privatisations. Nos sources vont même jusqu’à dire que le nombre d’entreprises qui resteront dans le giron de l’Etat dépasse plusieurs centaines.

    «Plus de 25% des sociétés listées comme privatisables seront purement et simplement reversés dans le portefeuille de l’Etat», révèle un cadre qui soutient que les récentes déclarations des ministres des Transports et du Tourisme ne sont, en réalité que la partie apparente de l’iceberg. Et pour cause, le gouvernement va bientôt rendre publique sa nouvelle «stratégie industrielle» qui tranche, radicalement, avec la démarche suivie jusque-là par le même Exécutif.

    Ainsi, classé comme une démarche stratégique irréversible en Algérie, le processus des privatisations marque, désormais, le pas. Le ministre des Participations et de la Promotion des investissements, Abdelhamid Temmar, vient d’ajouter un autre fait probant à ce recul et à l’assouplissement des convictions ultralibérales des dirigeants algériens. «L’Etat protégera de la privatisation une centaine d’entreprises de notre tissu industriel», a déclaré M.Temmar, lundi dernier, sous le regard jubilatoire du patron de la Centrale syndicale, Sidi-Saïd, lors d’un séminaire sur l’expérience suédoise dans la privatisation et le dialogue social. Au passage, le ministre a même ajouté que «la question de l’industrie en Algérie est importante, car elle est notre locomotive, si nous voulons entrer dans le commerce international. Il ne faut pas nous tromper». Après la course effrénée à la libéralisation tous azimuts, on entame, non pas la vitesse de croisière, mais la marche arrière.

    L’intérêt brusque exprimé par M.Temmar pour sauvegarder le secteur industriel va à contre-courant de la stratégie gouvernementale poursuivie depuis les cinq dernières années.

    La privatisation de l`ensemble des sociétés industrielles publiques quel que soit leur bilan, a été déclarée, admise, adoptée, défendue et applaudie par le pouvoir politique. Les dirigeants justifiaient les privatisations par la situation catastrophique du tissu industriel national. C’est ainsi qu’ils concevaient le désengagement de l’Etat de la sphère économique, érigé en principe absolu de l’économie moderne. Et à la Centrale syndicale de répliquer maintenant qu’elle est en position de force, qu’il n’est pas question que l’Etat se désengage de ses responsabilités économiques: «L’Etat doit se désengager de la gestion et non de la sphère économique».

    Au fait, la loi sur les hydrocarbures a été la meilleure illustration de cette volte-face inattendue des pouvoirs publics. La polémique a été violente dans la presse nationale au sujet de la loi Khelil. Votée par le Parlement en avril 2005, et publiée au Journal officiel, la loi n’a jamais été mise en oeuvre.

    Le président de la République n’a pas signé les décrets d’application. Une autre version de cette loi revue et corrigée, est alors remise aux députés en 2006 pour l’adopter de nouveau. Dans cette démarche «à reculons», le système bancaire est, lui aussi, directement concerné. La Banque nationale d’Algérie (BNA) et la Banque extérieure d’Algérie (BEA) ne sont plus privatisables. Figurant dans l’agenda de Temmar, celles-ci connaîtront, contre toute attente, une opération profonde de modernisation.

    En juin dernier, le FMI a, pourtant, estimé que l’Algérie doit faire des efforts pour accélérer le processus de privatisation des grandes banques publiques pour mieux soutenir la réforme et la modernisation du système bancaire algérien. Il n’y a pas que le FMI qui a été surpris par la démarche des dirigeants algériens. L’UE a, également, été prise de court par cette volte-face. En janvier dernier, l’Algérie devait bénéficier d’un financement de 8,15 millions d’euros de l’Europe, destiné à accélérer le programme de privatisation des entreprises publiques. L’aide est destinée à redynamiser cette opération, selon la lettre d’information hebdomadaire sur le partenariat euro-méditerranéen. Même les observateurs les plus aguerris en stratégie économique, les revues internationales qui éclairent l’opinion mondiale sur l’économie, se sont leurrés dans leurs analyses. «Le processus des privatisations a pu se concrétiser au niveau de quelques banques, des entreprises publiques et le secteur des télécommunications. Même s’il paraît assez lent, le processus des privatisations a toutes les chances d’être totalement achevé durant la période qui s’étalera de 2008 à 2010», a écrit la revue The Economist Intelligent. Une autre victime, puisqu’avec le revirement actuel, le processus ne sera pas achevé mais tout simplement stoppé. «Ceux qui ont appliqué le socialisme avec zèle sont les mêmes qui se sont reconvertis au libéralisme, ils sont extrémistes et dangereux», a soutenu la secrétaire générale du Parti des travailleurs, Louisa Hanoune, pour ne citer que cette politicienne.

    Privatisations: La volte-face du gouvernement

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    Algerian Participation and Investments Minister Abdelhamid Temmar announced Tuesday (December 5th) that 100 public companies have been excluded from the privatisation process. The government project for privatisation includes 1,200 public companies. Temmar did not reveal the names of the companies, but reportedly they include Sonatrach, electricity and gas producer Sonelgaz and airline Air Algérie. Since the beginning of the year, 63 state-owned firms have been privatised - including 45 partial or total privatization operations, 6 transfers of assets, 5 employee buyouts and 17 transfers to public institutions. Algeria has commenced privatization procedures for state-owned telecoms, several banks and cement plants.

    Algerian government excludes 100 firms from privatisation process

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